Himself, Jess Kidd's debut novel, has an intricate, twisting, turning plot that weaves Irish mythology, magical realism and ghosts into a whodunit that is anything but typical of its genre. In 1970s Ireland, 26-year-old, bell-bottom-wearing Mahony, raised in a Dublin orphanage, pursues a life of petty theft. When he receives an anonymous letter suggesting that his mother did not give him up willingly, however, Mahony sets aside his roguish ways and heads to her small hometown of Mulderrig to find out what really happened all those years ago.

As Mahony's search for the truth unfolds, Himself draws on elements of Irish folklore in ways that make Kidd's novel feel both whimsical and ominous. "There's a lot of truth in folklore," insists Mahony--and given his ability to both see and speak with the dead, this assertion comes as no surprise. Though he's had the ability since he was young, he's avoided interacting with ghosts in Dublin. But no such thing is possible in Mulderrig, where the spirits of the town's dead flock to his side and whisper secrets to him--secrets the living would prefer to be left in the past. With the assistance of the apparitions and Mrs. Cauley, an aging stage actress self-described as "Miss Marple.... With balls," Mahony starts to piece together the secrets of this darkness in ways that lead him to his mother.

Kidd combines these elements of magic and mystery with moments of wry humor and heartfelt emotion. A tribute to the classic Irish art of storytelling, Himself is a delight from start to finish. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Powered by: Xtenit